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Reducing Patient No-Shows

An win-win for doctors and patients alike

By Tinuola Adebukol
March 15, 2021
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Patient checking in at reception

When a patient fails to attend their scheduled appointments and did not make any prior contact with the clinic staff to cancel or reschedule the appointment, they’re classified as being a no-show.Patient no-shows are a constant recurrence across medical practices as they occur in outpatient settings at rates between 23.1% and 33.6%.No-shows create problems for providers to treat their patients. No-shows also cause problems for patients as well in regards to delaying continuity of care which can affect their health.

The effects of patient no-shows

A patient unknowingly puts their health at risk with each no-show. Patients who fail to appear for their appointments often need more costly emergency care in the future. The timing of patient coordination and access to patient care is crucial to a patient in need of care. A patient no-show in a setting that often has long-wait lists means that the patient will have to wait even longer to get the care they need and deserve. That appointment time also could have been allocated to another patient who was available to receive care.Financially, patient no-shows cost the healthcare industry $150 billion annually.On average, a primary care physician loses roughly $150-$200 in revenue with each missed appointment. For surgeons, this financial loss is upwards of $500 per missed appointment. Missed appointments serve as missed opportunities for medical offices to gain revenue to pay their staff and cover critical expenses like rent and the cost of equipment.

Tracking patient no-show rates

It is important for medical practices to track their patient engagement because it provides quantifiable data to assess and reduce no-shows. Direct emails and text messages sent to patients are proven to be the best methods of communication to engage patients in their care. The rise of innovative digital softwares in healthcare, like Tellescope, has resulted in the development of avenues to decrease patient no-shows through tracking patient engagement.

Calculating your no-show rate

To calculate your no-show rate divide your number of patients that did not show up for their appointments by your total number of scheduled appointments.

No-show rate = No-shows / Scheduled Appointments

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Why patients miss appointments

There are plenty of reasons why patients miss their appointments. Some of the most common demographics of patients who are most likely to miss their appointments include patients who are of old age, are at a far distance from the medical clinic, have little to no insurance coverage, chronic conditions and more.

The top five reasons patients fail to show up to their appointments are due to:

  1. Forgetfulness
  2. Time
  3. Cost
  4. Fear
  5. Demographic barriers

deterrent for patients to show up to their appointments because of schedule conflicts. A major barrier for patients is the cost of care due to either lack of insurance of high co-payments. So, patients who feel as though they will be unable to afford their medical bills will avoid showing up to their scheduled appointment. A very valid reason for patients also not to show up to their appointment is their anxiety-induced fear of medical professionals. The final major reason for patients avoiding their medical appointments is due to demographic barriers they are faced with such as a language barrier between patient and provider.

Dealing with patient no-shows

In order for medical offices to reduce patient no-show they need to partake in proven tangible solutions.The ultimate goal should be to make sure that patients are engaged and communicative with the health staff. Leveraging multiple communication networks would be of benefit to both the patient and the clinic staff. Not all patients are comfortable or available to communicate through a specific channel so having multiple communication channels available for patients makes care coordination a smoother process. Utilizing bi-directional communication allows automated appointment reminders to be sent back and forth to the patient from the health team. Through this bi-directional communication the medical staff can anticipate changes in a patient's availability. Automated appointment reminders as well as other options for automations are key to reducing manual burdens as they create valuable time for the clinic staff to attend to other pertinent tasks.

How to reduce your patient no-shows

Patient no show rate over time in line chart

A 2018 study found that after The Elmont Teaching Health Center implemented no-show reduction strategies focused on effective communication for only a year their no-show rate reduced by 5%.

Tellescope provides hassle-free avenues for reducing your patient no-shows. Tellescope offers secure multi-channel communications that are bi-directional. Tellescope’s software also offers an integrated engagement tracker so you don’t need to worry about calculating patient no-shows and tracking overall patient interaction manually. This engagement tracker serves as a great predictor of possible patient no-shows if a patient has a history of missed appointments. Additionally, Tellescope provides the ability to create automated messages. This allows medical offices to automatically communicate with their patients whether as a reminder of an appointment or just to check in with them. Reach out to the Tellescope team below to request a full demo and see how you can improve your workplace and patient care!

Sources

https://www2.relatient.net/resources/patient-no-shows/

https://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2671437

https://www.forbes.com/sites/sachinjain/2019/10/06/missed-appointments-missed-opportunities-tackling-the-patient-no-show-problem/?sh=27b24d44573b

https://medcitynews.com/2017/02/direct-patient-email-text-communication-best-engaging-patients-care/

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Originally published: March 15, 2021
Last updated: March 15, 2021